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The Disney-backed broadcast network has handed out formal pilot orders to three comedies, including the reboot of The Wonder Years featuring a Black family from the Empire co-creator.
While the original series starred Fred Savage and revolved around a white middle-class family in the 1960s suburbs, ABC’s new take focuses on how a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama, in the turbulent late ’60s made sure it was “the wonder years” for them, too.
Comedy veteran Saladin K. Patterson (The Big Bang Theory, Frasier, The Bernie Mac Show) will pen the script and exec produce alongside Daniels and his Lee Daniels Entertainment banner president Marc Velez. Original series co-creator Neal Marlens is attached as a consultant. Savage, who broke out with The Wonder Years and has maintained a long career in Hollywood, will also exec produce and direct the pilot. The potential series is produced via Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Television, where Daniels and Savage are both under overall deals.
Sources say Daniels, Velez, Patterson and Savage brought the idea directly to former ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke, who previously singled out The Wonder Years as one of the programs that made her want to work in television. Savage and Patterson are close friends, with the former having directed the latter’s untitled Leslie Odom Jr. multicamera pilot last year.
In other comedy pilot pickups, ABC has also ordered Maggie, based on the short film by Tim Curcio. Maggie Mull and Justin Adler (Life in Pieces) will co-write the script and exec produce alongside Evan Hayes. The single-camera comedy from 20th Television revolves around a young woman who tries to cope with life while coming to terms with her abilities as a psychic. She can see everyone’s future, but her present is a mess.
Additionally, ABC has picked up an untitled multicamera comedy from writer Regina Hicks and exec producers Viola Davis and Larry Wilmore. The project revolves around three sorority sisters who lost touch after college who reunite during a pivotal point in their lives. They realize that sometimes it’s OK to crack, and when you do, no one will be there for you like your friends. The comedy hails from ABC Signature, where Davis and her husband and JuVee producing partner Julius Tennon previously housed their overall deal. The project has been in the works at ABC since 2017, when Wilmore and JuVee each had overall deals with the studio.
Wonder Years, Maggie and the untitled Hicks comedy are the first pilot orders for ABC of the year. The network has two holdovers from last year’s unproduced crop, Adopted and Work Wife, and previously went straight to series on an untitled half-hour from Modern Family boss Chris Lloyd starring Alec Baldwin and Kelsey Grammer.
The pilot orders are among the first decisions made by Craig Erwich, the head of originals at Hulu who added ABC to his purview after Burke was promoted to oversee studio 20th TV.
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